Lowdown:
It’s the last World Golf Championship event of the year this week as the world’s best gather at Mission Hills in China for the HSBC Champions. Martin Kaymer is defending champion.

Although the top-two players in the world Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods will be absent this week, an extremely strong field has assembled. Seven of the top-10 on the Official World Golf Ranking will tee it up, as will 10 members of the victorious European Ryder Cup side.

Winner last week on the European Tour, Peter Hanson will be looking to take advantage of McIlroy’s absence. His victory at the BMW Masters moved him to second place on the Race to Dubai. If he were to win this week he would overtake the Northern Irishman at the top of the list. The Swede is remaining cagey about his chances however.

“When you look at the Race to Dubai you always want to be up there,” he said. “But deep down inside me I know Rory is going to be hard to catch. I will just see how this week goes.”

The competition is being played at a different venue this season. The event has shifted from Sheshan International GC to the huge complex at Mission Hills in Guangdong. There are an astonishing 12 courses at Mission Hills and this competition will be contested over a layout designed by 2012 Ryder Cup captain José María Olazábal. It’s a testing track with a proliferation of bunkers and relatively small putting surfaces. It’s not the first time the course has been used for elite competition. It was the venue for the World Cups of 2007-2009.

The HSBC Champions Tournament was first contested on the European Tour back in 2006. In 2009 it became one of the World Golf Championships and Phil Mickelson was the winner. Italy’s Francesco Molinari took the title in 2010 and Martin Kaymer of Germany was the champion last season.

Kaymer played a fantastic final round of 63 at Sheshan International Golf Club last season to take the victory. He made no less than nine birdies in his last 12 holes to beat Sweden’s Fredrik Jacobson by three strokes.

Venue: Mission Hills GC, Guangdong, China
Date: Nov 1-4
Course stats: par 72, 7,251 yards
Purse: $7,000,000 Winner: $1,200,000
Defending Champion: Martin Kaymer (-20)

TV Coverage:
Thursday 1 – Sky Sports 1 from 3am
Friday 2 – Sky Sports 1 from 3am
Saturday 3 – Sky Sports 1 from 3am
Sunday 4 – Sky Sports 1 from 3am

Player Watch:
Louis Oosthuizen – He’s coming back to something like his best form with five top-six finishes in his last nine starts. When on his game he’s a match for anyone and if he can get it going this week will surely contend.

Jason Dufner – The consistent American has enjoyed a fabulous season to climb into the top-10 on the Official World Golf Ranking. He was second in the recent ISPS HANDA Perth International, thus proving he travels well.

Robert Garrigus – The powerful American had a good chance of victory last week in Malaysia and was only beaten by the superb final round display of Nick Watney. He’s a monster hitter and he could use that to his advantage here.

Key Hole: 15th. A par 5 of 580 yards, this is the Olazabal course’s signature hole. It turns from right to left around a reservoir with bunkers all down the fairway. The longest hitters might have a shy at the green in two, but it’s a risky shot as it must carry all the way over water. The prudent play is to lay up and leave a wedge in.